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Kinsler picks up the slack, Sox top Braves, Springfield, Mass.
September 03. 2018 9:39PM

Boston Red Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler eats sunflower seeds before Monday's game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

ATLANTA — Three RBIs for Ian Kinsler and a strong performance from a busy bullpen led the Red Sox to a 8-2 win in the opener of a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on Labor Day.

Kinsler opened the scoring in the fifth with an RBI double and gave Boston some insurance in the eighth, driving in J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland with a two-out single to make it 5-2. Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts each had RBI base hits in a three-run fifth inning for Boston, with Xander Bogaerts adding a two-run double in the ninth.

Atlanta got on the board with an Ozzie Albies homer (his 22nd of the year) in the sixth and closed the gap to 3-2 with a Kurt Suzuki sacrifice fly an inning later. Hembree struck out Albies with runners on first and third to end the seventh and quash Atlanta’s best chance of the day.

Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing no damage despite throwing 86 pitches and walking four Braves. The righty was pitching on three days’ rest, having come out of Friday’s game in Chicago after two innings (and 35 pitches) due to a long rain delay.

Brandon Workman, Steven Wright, Joe Kelly, Ryan Brasier, Hembree, Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel combined for 5 2/3 innings of relief, with Atlanta scoring twice on five hits.

The Sox are now 3-1 against the Braves on the season and will be back in action tonight at 7:35 p.m. Rick Porcello will face off against Brockton, Mass., native Sean Newcomb in the middle game of the three-game series.

Monday was Kinsler’s first three-RBI game as a member of the Red Sox and his third on the season. Since being acquired on July 30, he has hit .312 with a homer and 10 RBIs.

Kinsler was an unheralded acquisition at the time, looked at as an insurance policy in case Dustin Pedroia did not come back healthy this season. Now that it’s pretty certain Pedroia won’t be a factor until 2019 and Kinsler will be an important piece down the stretch.

Red Sox/MLB